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Hiring a vehicle? Read the fine print

By Steve Starling, 28 Mar 2016 Opinion

Hiring a vehicle? Read the fine print

Hiring a four-wheel drive mightn’t be ideal, but if you must – just make sure you read the fine print.

There’s an old joke about hire cars being able to go places no other vehicle can reach.

It’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that some hirers are more likely to flog and mistreat a vehicle they don’t own. In reality, those of us who have spent a fair amount of time at the wheels of hired cars know that the fine print in most rental contracts frowns upon such behaviour, and typically backs up its terse written warnings with potentially hefty additional fees and charges.

Ironically, many of the larger companies that hire out four-wheel drive vehicles specify in those rental agreements that their rigs are not to be driven off-road – at all! Some even preclude their use on unsealed dirt roads. It makes you wonder.

As a regular visitor to New Zealand, I spent a long time tracking down a Kiwi business that rented 4x4s that I was allowed (even encouraged) to get down and dirty with. I enjoyed several great years as a customer of a Christchurch-based outfit, but, sadly, the business eventually closed its doors when its affable proprietor moved across the ditch to Oz and joined the burgeoning 4x4 tag-along tour industry. I sure do miss the unique service!

Of course, a lot of ‘proper’ off-roaders no doubt look down their noses at the notion of hiring a 4x4. The same is true of serious anglers when it comes to the subject of hiring boats.

There’s nothing quite like your own tweaked and customised set-up. But the fact remains that we sometimes find ourselves in a position where we’re unable to make use of our own vehicles and watercraft, typically because we’ve flown to a particular destination. At such times, hiring may be the only viable option.

As a case in point, on a recent visit to Tasmania, my wife Jo and I took advantage of a wonderful new hire outfit intended to service the island state’s significant FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) recreational fishing market. Clinton Howe is a tackle shop proprietor based in Ulverstone, on the north coast of the Apple Isle.

Operating simply as Tassie Boat Hire, Clinton offers a fully kitted-out 420 Quintrex Renegade side-console tinnie with a 40hp outboard, bow-mounted electric motor, depth sounder, marine radio and all the other important ‘fruit’ demanded by high-end sport fishers. This rig is more than capable of tackling anything from highland lake trouting to estuary bream work, or even near-shore coastal action, in the right weather.

Better still, Clinton also offers a 2011 Mitsubishi Triton 2.5-litre turbo-diesel, twin-cab ute with an auto transmission, as a tow vehicle, to complete the turn-key package. We used this full rig for a week of high-country trout fishing and were absolutely delighted with the package, not to mention Clinton’s pick-up and drop-off service at the airport!

For less than $350 per day, all-up (boat, ute and airport transfers), it was excellent value, particularly when compared with the cost of getting your own vehicle and boat across Bass Strait and back for a short-term visit.

Not surprisingly, Clinton’s first 4x4 and boat hire rig is already heavily booked, especially for the busy summer/autumn period, and he has recently put a matching set-up on the road. I reckon he’s on to a winner and may eventually need a third package.

If you’d like to find out more about this interesting option, have a look at Clinton’s Tassie Boat Hire page on Facebook, or visit his website at: tassieboathire.com.au